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25 November 2012 @ 06:59 pm
Sherlock/Criminal Minds Fic - On The Case Again (1/?)  
Title: On The Case Again
Author: Ragna (scandalbaby)
Rating: PG
Fandoms: Sherlock/Criminal Minds.
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Greg Lestrade, Emily Prentiss, Sally Donovan, Mrs. Hudson and John Watson in this part. Eventual Sherlock/Prentiss pairing.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters. I wish I did, but I don't.
Spoilers: Set after “The Reichenbach Fall” for Sherlock and “Hit”/”Run” for Criminal Minds.
Warnings: None
Summary: This case was a chance for both Sherlock and Prentiss to get back in the thick of things, back to solving the complicated and twisty cases, and maybe find a new friend as well.
Authors Notes: I had planned on this being my second entry for the holmes_big_bang community but I knew there was no way it would get finished in time for the rough draft deadline so I withdrew it; this way, I can work on it at my own leisure.

---

He had missed this. The thrill, the rush, the feeling he had when he was presented with a complicated case that no one else could solve. But it was different now. Now, he didn’t have John by his side. John wasn’t speaking to him, which even Sherlock realized was fully normal and rational. After all, he had faked his death and been gone for three years. He had lied to nearly everyone he cared about, and though he had done it for them, to keep them safe, he knew there were still going to be hurt feelings all around.

He was alone at 221B Baker Street, with the exception of Mrs. Hudson, who was also giving him a chilly reception. John had left in the three years he’d been gone, moved out to marry a woman named Mary, and he was happy. He was expecting his first child, or so Sherlock had heard. The fact that his friend had found love and was happy meant a lot to Sherlock, but it saddened him as well. He felt he had lost John over this, and with him having a new life with new priorities he doubted he would ever get his friend back, and he knew even if he did it wouldn’t be the same.

The others took him back more easily. Molly had known, having been his secret keeper. She had helped him fake his death, and she had been the one he kept in touch with. Over time Lestrade had figured it out as well, as Molly had mentioned it in a letter. She was still at St. Bart’s, he was still in Scotland Yard, though their attachment to him had dimmed their careers a bit. Though apparently neither of them minded; when he came around to see them they were both pleased it was all over, happy that he was safe, glad he had returned. It had made for a different experience.

His brother had known he was alive as well. Mycroft had his hands in everything, and he hadn’t been able to hide well enough from his brother. His brother had contacted him at various points in his journey, delivering news of his friends, and when he had returned it had been Mycroft that had set about debunking the claims that he was a fake. Slowly, people started to believe the truth, that Moriarty was a liar and Sherlock was the real deal, but there were still some, like Donovan and Anderson, who chose to believe the worst. He knew they would continue to believe that, even with proof presented that it was a falsehood, because that was the type of people they were.

None of that mattered today, however. He was embroiled in a case that was challenging and intriguing, and it was bringing him up out of his own depths to a place that was familiar and felt good. He looked over at Lestrade as they walked down the street, paper cups filled with coffee. They were on their way to the second crime scene, going over the particulars of what Sherlock had been able to figure out in the meantime.

“You know I might have to work this in conjunction with INTERPOL, don’t you?” Lestrade said as he took a sip of his coffee. “Clyde Easter was all right, but the new person in charge…she’s an American who used to be a profiler in the FBI. I get a strange feeling when I’m in the same room with her, like she’s trying to figure me out.”

“Profilers have a habit of doing that,” Sherlock said. “It’s why I prefer not to work with them.”

“Well, you don’t have much of a choice in the matter this time, I’m afraid,” Lestrade said, stopping dead in his tracks. Sherlock took one step ahead before noticing and stopped. Lestrade pointed in front of them, and Sherlock allowed his gaze to go in that direction. There was a woman standing there, around his own age, chatting with Donovan. She wore a tailored suit jacket in dark gray with matching pants and a purple T-shirt underneath, under a long black trench coat, and had dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. “That’s Emily Prentiss right there.”

“I suppose no one told you your case was being handled with INTERPOL’s co-operation, then,” Sherlock said.

Lestrade sighed. “She’s talking to Donovan. That’s going to cloud her judgment on your involvement. Might as well go fix the damage.” He began walking again, Sherlock in step with him. They made it to the two women and Lestrade looked at Donovan and Prentiss. “Emily,” he said with a nod.

“Greg,” she said with a nod of her own and a smile to boot. “Sorry we didn’t contact you earlier. I happened to be nearby so I figured I’d come in and offer our services and help coordinating with the FBI.” Then she turned to Sherlock. “You must be Sherlock Holmes. Clyde told me an awful lot about you.”

“Good, I hope?” he said.

“Most of it. He did say you could be an arse but you were quite brilliant.” She extended her hand for him to shake, and he did. “The FBI is sending some agents here. I know it started off as a single homicide, but with the murder of an American and the missing girls…” She trailed off, looking back at Lestrade.

Lestrade nodded. “Of course. This would be something right up your alley. Are you going to be helping?”

“I might stick around and toss my two cents into the profiling, but no. I’ll mostly be hands off for this. After all, I don’t have any authority to arrest anyone. I’m just here to facilitate and help as best I can.” Then she turned back to Sherlock. “I would appreciate it if you stayed on the case, Mr. Holmes. Without your contributions we never would have known about the missing girls. Perhaps you can put our databases and such to good use?”

Sherlock nodded slowly. “Certainly…” He wasn’t sure how to address her for a moment. There wasn’t a wedding band on her finger, but he didn’t know if she’d been married before. And she had addressed him as Mr. Holmes, and he thought it best to respond in kind. “Ms. Prentiss.”

“You can call me Emily, if you want,” she replied. “It might be easier.”

“Very well,” he said with another nod. “You may address me as Sherlock.”

Lestrade looked at Donovan. “What’s known about the crime scene?”

Donovan looked at Lestrade and Prentiss and avoided Sherlock’s eyes before looking down to her notebook. “The victim’s name is John Berlanti. He’s an American citizen here on a work visa, and the flat was rented to him. His landlady said she hadn’t seen him for a week, and yesterday they noticed an awful smell. The place has been tossed, but no one can tell what’s missing and what isn’t. There were no signs of a computer, however, and it looked like there had been one in there before since there’s a printer on the desk.”

Lestrade nodded and turned to Sherlock. “I think you might be a big help in figuring out what’s gone, Sherlock.”

“I can try.” Sherlock set his coffee on the ground near Donovan, then ducked under the crime scene tape, and Lestrade and Prentiss followed. He walked up the steps into the building, pulling out his gloves as he did, and he put on the gloves before opening the door and letting himself inside. Once in there the smell of death was unmistakable. He had to have been in the apartment for a few days for it to get this bad. It didn’t bother him too much, but it did trigger an unwanted memory from his time taking down Moriarty’s network. He paused for a moment as the memory flashed, crystal clear in his mind, a memory of having to sit in a room with a dead body for two days, waiting for the dead man’s partner to arrive so he could interrogate him. He shook his head to clear it and then surveyed the crime scene.

It was indeed a disaster, but Sherlock could tell a lot of it was sloppy housekeeping. It was only in the area where the man’s desk was that it went beyond living in a pigsty. He pulled open the drawers of the desk and found one to be locked. Someone tried to quickly break into it but hadn’t been able to. He pulled out his kit to pick locks and got to work. Within moments he had it open, and he pulled out a bundle of letters and photographs. Some letters had a photograph of a young girl paper clipped to it, and other photographs were just bundled in with the letters. “I believe the problem of the missing girls may be more extensive than originally thought,” he replied, holding up the bundle and then handing it to Lestrade as he got nearer.

Lestrade flipped through them with Prentiss looking over his shoulder. “Wait a second,” Prentiss said, and Lestrade stopped. “This was a girl who was missing in New York. And this girl too.” She pulled out two pictures in her gloved hands. “One of my last cases in the FBI dealt with a serial killer who kidnapped his victims and then buried them in upstate New York. These two girls were suspected to be victims but we didn’t get any DNA matches on the victims we found.”

“That’s unusual,” Lestrade said.

“I may ask for some members of my old team to be sent here instead, people who worked on the serial killer case,” she replied. She looked to Lestrade. “Can I keep these for a moment?” Lestrade nodded, and she moved to the side to make a phone call. Sherlock heard her say “Hey, Hotch” but then tuned out the rest of her conversation.

“Murder, human trafficking and now serial killers?” Lestrade said to him, shaking his head. “I have no clue what kind of case we stumbled into.”

“A rather intriguing one,” Sherlock murmured, taking the loose photograph on top. He turned it over and saw writing on the back, though it appeared to be gibberish. “There’s some sort of code on the back of the photograph.”

Lestrade pulled out another one and flipped it over. “It’s on the back of this one, too.”

Sherlock put his photograph back and pulled out a letter. “The letters appear to be in code as well.”

“Are you good with codes?”

“Fairly decent,” he replied.

“Then why don’t you get to work on them? I’ll have these taken into evidence and then turned over to you to go through.”

Sherlock nodded. “Very well.”

“Anything else you can tell us?”

“He was sloppy. A lot of the mess in this room is the result of poor upkeep, and the haphazard way the letters are arranged indicates he was untidy in his affairs in accordance with whatever his role was. But they were locked up, which means he considered them to be of some value. Whoever killed him tried to break open the drawer I found them in but either gave up or was scared off. With my lock pick it only took me a few moments to break into it, so I believe the person who tried to take them was inexperienced. May I see the body?”

Lestrade nodded and led him into the kitchen. “Here you go.”

Sherlock bent down and examined the body, using his pocket magnifying glass at some points. “The inexperience carries over into the act of killing. This may have been his first time killing, or at least his first time killing by stabbing.” He rolled the body over and looked at it. “There are hesitation marks in the initial stab wounds. This was very likely his first time killing a person by these means. Will you make sure Molly gets the body?”

“Yeah, I can do that,” Lestrade said. “It’s a good thing she’s still talking to you.”

“Yes,” he said quietly. “Of course, she knew from the outset that I was planning on faking my death. Others did not.”

Lestrade was quiet for a moment. “John still isn’t talking to you?”

Sherlock nodded. “It’s been a month. He’s cordial at best, but our conversations are short and to the point. I’ve stopped coming up with reasons to contact him and am letting him decide when it is time to come to me. I believe that’s the best course of action.”

“You’re probably right,” Lestrade said as Prentiss came back over to them. “Well?”

“I talked to my old boss at the FBI. They’re a little busy right now, but he can spare Agent Derek Morgan and Agent Jennifer Jareau, and we’re allowed to use their tech specialist Penelope Garcia. Dr. Spencer Reid may come over as well if they finish the case they’re working on and we still need help.”

“Aren’t Morgan and Penelope your friends that were here for the Olympics that I worked with?” Lestrade asked after a moment.

Prentiss smiled and nodded. “Yeah, that’s them. Derek was supposed to come visit anyway in two weeks so he’s just going to come early and take some additional vacation time if we finish before his vacation starts.”

“It must be nice to work with old friends,” Sherlock said.

“It will be, though it’s been…” She paused for a moment. “Two years since the last time I saw JJ, and about eight months since the last time I saw Derek.”

“Perhaps we can go into detail about what we found?” Lestrade said.

“Of course. I saw the writing on the back of the photos,” Prentiss replied. “Do you have anyone good at cracking codes?”

“Sherlock,” Lestrade said. “He once cracked a cipher using the London A – Z Guide that involved international art thefts.”

“I’d heard about that,” Prentiss said, looking at Sherlock with a smile. “That was impressive, figuring out they were using a common book to crack the code.”

“Thank you,” he said. “I’d like to start on the codes sooner rather than later, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course,” Lestrade said. “I’ll have this taken into evidence. Anything else we should collect?”

“The contents of his desk, and all his books. Unless he had memorized the code the key to breaking it may be in those things.” He handed Lestrade back the letter and peeled off his gloves. “I would also suggest you dust the photographs and letters for prints before you give them to me, to see who else may have handled them.”

Lestrade nodded. “I’d planned on it.”

“Very well. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off.” Sherlock turned to go.

“Is it all right if I call you, to see how the case is going and to introduce you to my friends when they arrive?” Prentiss asked.

Sherlock nodded. “Of course.” He pulled out his phone. “What is your phone number?” Prentiss gave it to him, and then he gave her his number. “I will call the both of you if I get any more leads.”

“Hopefully we’ll hear from you soon,” Prentiss said with a grin.

He returned it with a slight one of his own and then went out the door, stopping only to pick up his now lukewarm cup of coffee. Donovan glared at him but he tried his best to ignore her. He walked down the street and tried to think about what he had seen at the home and glimpses of code he had seen. If nothing else, he now had another challenge in front of him, and if he could crack it perhaps he could help solve more than just two murders. But it was strange doing this without an assistant, and once again he wished John was there.

He finally saw a cab coming and hailed it. It stopped and he got inside, giving him his home address. He attempted to go into his mind palace during the ride but his mind kept flashing to the memory triggered by the smell at the man’s apartment. He didn’t like thinking about the three years he was away from home. He tried to lock those memories and feelings up in a vault in his mind, where he didn’t have to deal with them. He knew his few remaining friends were worried for him, as well as his brother. He had had to do things that he didn’t like to think about, and he was sure if the others knew they’d be even more worried, so he kept the memories to himself.

The cab pulled up to 221B Baker Street and he paid the driver and got out. Mrs. Hudson was leaving, and she gave him a half smile as he stepped out. “A cab, just what I needed,” she replied.

“It’s all yours,” Sherlock said.

“Thank you,” she said. She paused next to him, and tentatively put a hand on his arm. “There’s a letter for you inside. It’s from John. He hand delivered it today, while you were out at the crime scene.”

“Thank you for telling me, Mrs. Hudson,” he said with a nod.

She removed her arm. “I will tell you he looked disappointed that you weren’t home, if that helps at all. I didn’t read it, but he did ask me to make sure you got it. It’s on his chair.”

“All right. I’ll read it once I get inside.”

She looked at him for a moment, then hugged him. He was surprised at first but then carefully hugged her back. Only Molly had hugged him since he’d come back, but there was something different about this hug. It reminded him of the hugs his mother had given him when he was a young child and he’d been picked on for being different, a hug of comfort and strength. She let go first and gave him a wider smile when she stepped away. She got into the cab and he watched her leave before he went inside.

Sitting on John’s old chair was a letter. His hands were shaking slightly as he opened it and began to read. It was short, and for that he was thankful.

Sherlock,

I’ve done some hard thinking. I’ve had a lot of conversations in my head, imagined all the ways I could write this letter. I should be talking to you face to face, which I hope will happen when I deliver this. There’s a lot that happened in the three years you were gone, many bad things, but also many good things. And some of those things…I don’t think they would have happened if we’d carried on the way we had. I don’t think I would have gone after Mary and had the relationship I’ve had if you were still there when I met her.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I understand why you did it, and I accept it. I still don’t like it, but if you hadn’t jumped I’d probably be dead by an assassin’s bullet, and that isn’t the outcome I would have wanted. If you’re willing, I’d like to try and repair our friendship. I can’t get those three years back, but if I keep pushing you away then it makes me a bloody coward. You had saved my life. I shouldn’t give up on you for doing what needed to be done so I could keep living. If I’m not there when you read this, give me a call. We can meet up somewhere and really talk.

John


A smile formed on his lips as he read. This, this was good news. This was a good start. He pulled out his phone, pulled up John’s number and hit the send button. It rang twice before John picked up. “Hello?”

“Hello, John,” he replied.

“Sherlock. I’m glad you called. You read the letter, I suppose?”

“Yes. I have a case right now, but I won’t get the evidence I need for a few hours yet. Are you free now?”

“Yeah, I’m free. I can come over in about…” There was a slight pause. “Twenty minutes. Where do you want to meet?”

“The deli?”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll be there in twenty.”

“All right. See you then, John.”

“Okay.” There was another pause. “I’m glad you’re back, by the way. We have a lot to talk about.”

“Yes. Yes, we do. I’ll see you soon.”

“Okay. Bye, Sherlock.”

“Good-bye.” John hung up and Sherlock did the same. He grinned wider and headed back towards the door. This made a good day even better, he realized, and that was a grand thing.

Part 2